Backyard Wrestlers Beat Each Other Bloody

Nov. 20, 2002 -- These backyard wrestlers are a long way from going pro, but say they entertain neighbors with matches that include choreographed violence and self-mutilation.

Backyard wrestlers James Hammock and Robert Ice, both of Las Vegas, say crowds of up to 200 people attend their matches. The three say they plan how the matches will go down, just as professionals do, for weeks before an event.

Local police say that wrestling between two mutually consenting opponents who are over 18 is legal in Nevada. But it is allegedly a far cry from good, clean fun, and officers have put the matches on ice while they investigate what goes on outside the ring.

Backyard Superstars

Hammock, 22, who goes by the name "Stoolie" in the ring, says his wrestling "league" doesn't charge admission because they love to put on the show.

"It is fun, and it's a rush for all of us to have 200 people screaming our names while we're doing this," Hammock said.

Hammock, a soft-spoken machinist at a tool and die shop, says his mother often attends his matches, although she doesn't approve and worries about the dangerous stunts he pulls.

"I've lit myself on fire and have scars from hurting myself," Hammock said.

But Hammock and the rest of his league will have to find another way to achieve that "rush" for awhile. Las Vegas police have just put their show on hiatus.

Side Shows

Lt. Vincent Cannito of the Las Vegas Police Department says the matches have been temporarily put on hold for what's been going on around the "ring." Cannito says attendees of the backyard shows can be seen doing some illegal activities on videotapes of the matches.

"You see kids involved," Cannito said. "We have some narcotics use and drinking possibly taking place," Cannito said. "So we have to take these crimes into consideration, as well."

Hammock and other match organizers, Ice, a.k.a "Rob Kong", and Clark, a.k.a "Howie D," who is an announcer, say those who are seen drinking on the tapes are of age, and they say it's not their job to take up parenting.

Clark says the league plans to continue the matches in the future.

"We don't agree with the fact that there was any kind of drug use in the yard," Clark said. "As far as kids going to the show, underage kids checking it out in the crowd, we feel we shouldn't really have to be concerned about that because it should be a more parents-concern type issue."

Ice, 23, who is a machinist by profession, says he plans matches with at least 10 other male wrestlers, and one woman, weeks before their show date.

"We have at least two to three booking meetings a month to planout storylines and figure out who is going to fight each other," Ice said.

Ice, who suffered serious head injuries after being hit with a mailbox by Hammock, says accidents will happen in any sport.

The foundation that supports the wrestling stars that Hammock and Ice try to emulate, says it is adamantly opposed to the concept of "backyard wrestling" because of the risk of injury to untrained amateurs.

World Wrestling Entertainment says "any attempt by our fans to emulate our superstars' physicality is extremely dangerous and irresponsible ... When we receive videotapes from backyard wrestlers, the tapes are returned, unviewed."

Cannito says there are approximately 1,000 amateur wrestling federations nationwide. He says authorities will continue to watch backyard wrestling matches because they endanger people's lives.

"As far as there are issues with public safety, we're going to beinvolved," Cannito said. "Last year, a 12-year-old Floridaboy killed a 6-year-old neighbor girl … while slamming her into a fence, imitating one of these acts," he said. "We do need to be responsible; we do need to be concerned."

Scott Burton of ABC's KTNV-TV in Las Vegas contributed to this report.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Top Stories

Top Stories

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events